Luke 20v9-18 The Parable of the Wicked Tenants (Or the Parable of the Murder of the Owner’s Son)


A history of past hard-heartedness
A revealing of present priorities
A prophecy of future judgement


We come to the last full parable in Luke’s gospel. There are other parables that are told between now and the crucifixion that the other gospels record like the parable of the virgins and the sheep and the goats. But this is the last parable that Luke tells, and this is for a reason. This parable will be known to us as the parable of the wicked tenants, but I love what one of the commentators calls it: The Parable of the Murder of the Owner’s Son. Jesus is 48 hours away from His crucifixion, He is 48 hours away from being wrongfully condemned and murdered by Israel and her leaders. This parable is a peculiar one in that it is an extended allegory. Where many other parables illustrate an important spiritual truth like the parable of the Prodigal Son that reveals God’s delight to receive penitent sinners, this parable is different. This is a parable that reflects on the history of Israel’s sin, the present rejection of their Messiah and the future judgement that must fall upon them. It has an overview of redemptive history, a messianic claim, and a prophecy of judgement that is coming. Each of the characters in the parable have clear correspondence to understood realities. The landowner is God, the vineyard is Israel, the tenants are Israel’s leaders, the servants are God’s prophets, and the beloved Son is Jesus. On display in this parable we see the grace and patience of God; the hardness of the human heart; and the inevitable judgement upon those who reject God’s overtures towards them. We will look at this parable under three headings: a history of past hard-heartedness; a revealing of present priorities; and a prophecy of future judgement.